Mistakes about Dionysus

One of the many misconceptions on Dionysus is that he’s a hardcore drunk.  Understandable considering he’s the god of wine.

Bacchus from Disney’s Fantasia 

As in the above depiction, he’s usually the stupid kind of drunk.  A careless idiot. all about the party. Basically a stereotypical frat boy.  He’s rarely like this however.

In the Bacchae, a play were he is featured, shows him as relatively level headed in his attempt to get his family to accept him.  It does show how savage he can though.

Dionysus is not care free, he’s not always cuddly.  In his lore there are instances of his followers ripping apart people and other animals, overtaken by madness brought on by the god.  A response to their disrespect.  This disrespect can be spying on his rituals to victimizing himself(attempting to) or his followers.

The depiction of Dionyus as a drunk, for me, is disrespectful.  This is due to what little I know about Ancient Greek drinking habits. First of all, alchohol, juice, and milk , were a matter a nessecity.  The ancients understood that they could get hydration from other sources that didn’t cause things like dysentary as water wasn’t as clean as it often is today.

The men of Greece and Rome(Convivium) partook in something called a Symposium.  A symposium was a drinking party were ideas were often exchanged, poems spoken, debate was had.  It was overseen by symposiarch who decided how strong the wine was. (they mixed wine w/water) He would also prevent parties from getting out of hand, like Dionysus is often depicted.  This was because mindless drunkenness was seen as a weakness as was disrespectful of oneself and the host..

Dionysus is the god of symposiums and I suppose he’s be the Symposiarch.  Because of what symposiums are, he, to me, is the god of social exchange and the exchange of ideas.



The Bacchea by by Euripides



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